June 15, 2011

Lissewege, the white town with the flat tower

Beautiful quiet Lissewege,  close to Bruges and the Belgian coast, is definitely worth a detour.
A lovely tranquil town, its streets are lined with white chalked houses grouped in a circle around the church and lined along the narrow canal.
The name Lissewege was recorded for the first time in 961 and the village owes its existence to the construction of dikes that served as a protection against the sea. 
It was textiles that made this village rich in the Middle Ages.
The church, Onze Lieve Vrouw kerk, is an early gothic brick-stone with a flat tower and was built between  1230 and 1270.
How is it possible that such a small village could build such a large church? There are several stories trying to explain it. Most likely to be true is that it was constructed under supervision of the Templer Knights. These knights had to protect the pilgrims on their way to Santiago de Compostela, Rome and Jerusalem. For pilgrims coming from the North, their long journey began in Lissewege. Probably the church was financed by sacrificial gifts from the many pilgrims that passed this place. 
Today Lissewege is a very pleasant quiet little town with several nice restaurants (see tomorrows post).